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March 2009

There are many names for ‘rain’ in Africa.The Batswana call it pula, which is also the word for money or value.This is obvious for a country as dry as Botswana.In the past few weeks I have been trying to discover if there is a word for rain in xingorongosi, the regional language here in Gorongosa.If there is one, I am sure it has something to do with mud, getting stuck, swimming, or just ‘one heck of a lot’.I have seldom seen as much of the water-that-falls-from-the-sky as I’ve seen here in the Park in the last month.Roads have become rivers, airstrips have become ponds, and our trusty Mazda has become a submarine on more than one occasion.Whilst the heavens have been open though, it has given us a chance to get going on our staff recruitment and training here in Chitengo.We conducted over 120 interviews (in Portuguese!) with local applicants from around the Park.The enthusiasm and general eagerness shown by all was impressive, and should serve as an important lesson in these difficult global times: Mozambique has seen the worst of life in recent times, yet still (or because of this) they realise and appreciate the fundamental basis of life - being real and being alive is more important than anything else.This spirit has definitely come through in the final group that was selected to undergo a rigorous training programme with us under the supervision of our lead trainer, Cassius Tembo.None of them have ever seen a soup spoon before; none understand why we leave bones out of our food and don’t eat them.None have the slightest idea why you serve eggs in a hundred different ways.And yet, they all have a willingness to learn and an eagerness to please which is so refreshing in these days of doom and gloom, and does a little to relieve fears that maybe the human race is really the big problem after all.

Humanism showed its face again earlier in the month when we managed to get well stuck on a recce trip into our exclusive operating area within the Park.Our partner, Greg, was up from Cape Town, as well as a friend from America.There were five of us in the truck and soon we were on the tracks of a large male lion heading towards our area.We were obviously quite excited by the prospect of a sunset over the Msicadzi River with a lion roaring backing soundtrack.Then we hit the mud.It took an hour to get one tyre onto a log in order to get traction.In that same hour our friend got stung by a scorpion, the lion did indeed start roaring (a little too nearby), the sun set, and to top it all, an unidentified brown snake slithered under the truck leaving us all a little less keen to be shoving our hands under wheels and under bumpers.When we eventually emerged on dry ground, we were a tight group of friends all laughing at what could have been.The One Africa team has always been a close family, and this event proved that five-in-one is way better than one-in-five.

Apart from the elusive roaring leo, other viewing has been good this month despite (or possibly because of) the rains.Another (younger) male lion was seen close to camp chatting up a rather uninterested lady-friend.A small herd of elephantoms has taken over the fever tree forest around the Lion House, loving the ease at which these beautiful trees are falling over with minimal force in the soggy conditions!Many oribi have dropped their young and the cute little chocolate brown fawns are able to spring over two metres high within days of dropping.Impala rams are toughening up for the rut - one or two particularly impressive ones who we’re backing for the title of King-of-the-Harem.Nyala males are squaring off, warthogs are enjoying the muddy conditions, and the birdlife is prolific at the moment.With all the rain, roads have become make-shift streams and hamerkops, juvenile fish eagles, and saddle-bill storks are trawling these temporary waterways for frog and fish alike.The vultures and marabous have started their annual turtle feast on the large hapless Zambezi terrapins that are being caught as they move from puddle to pan.And the daddy palm thrushes are well into their vocal display dances.

All in all, the bush is truly alive and kicking with thanks to the rain, our friend and foe, whose local name is still a mystery to us, but who for now we will call a truce with.Perhaps we shall just call it nature…or life…or magic.

For those that will be at Indaba in Durban, we will see you all there and can tell you all about our launch trips due at the beginning of May.For the rest who can’t make Indaba - we’ll see you in Gorongosa soon enough we hope!

Read more about both our exciting projects in Mozambique at:

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October 2008 Newletter
January 2009 Newsletter